"Anti-fascist" student protesters at Columbia University shut down a speaker on a different continent Tuesday night.
The university's College Republicans chapter was hosting Tommy Robinson, a prominent but controversial European critic of Islam and immigration, for a lecture over Skype. Robinson's speech was set to focus on the impact of mass immigration on Europe.
As he video conferenced into the lecture hall, around 30 students "entered the theater room and began jeering him into silence," according to the New York Post. The Columbia Spectator reported that over 250 protesters gathered outside the room, "with some banging on the doors to the auditorium," holding signs with phrases that included "hate speech = violence." Administrators reportedly sought to "dissuade" protesters from storming the stage to no avail. Before the lecture, protesters first attempted to block entrances, according to Campus Reform.
A Facebook page for the protest, which identified the event as "an anti fascist rally," condemned "CUCRs decision to assist the white nationalist agenda."
The College Republicans, who said Robinson "has championed the notion that radical Islam is incompatible with Western values and the freedoms that we currently enjoy today," also said they did not fully endorse him but "had hoped to debate Tommy regarding mass immigration and have a more substantive discussion about actual issues."
Robinson spoke at Columbia over Skype in 2016 "at an event that garnered little protest."
"This university is not upholding free speech values," CCR President Ari Boosalis told the Post. "The failure of this event is a failure of this university. These protesters had their time to say what they wanted but then they should have been asked to leave to let Tommy speak."
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.